Reason # 93: Mockery of Justice
On March 12, 2014 the Mumbai Mirror published an article remarking on nine children who were kidnapped by the daughters of Khuzeima Qutbuddin, the claimant to holding the rightful position of the 53rd Dai al-Mutlaq of the Dawoodi Bohra community. In fact the article states, “On January 17th, the very day that the Syedna passed away, the children — who lived in Saifee Mahal, home of the Syedna and his family in Malabar Hill, were taken away to Thane by their mothers, and there has been no trace of them ever since.” The Mumbai Mirror fell short of reporting all the facts of the matter or their source conveniently left out a major detail.
This detail is that soon after the abduction of the children, some of these nine children appeared in separate homemade videos in which they held scripts and read lines proclaiming that their maternal grandfather, Khuzaima Qutbuddin, was the true 53rd Da’i and how they have willingly adhered to his claim and cause. (Although these videos were also sent to me via whatsapp, out of sheer humanity and respect to both families involved, I absolutely cannot post them here. I do not only feel that such an act is exploitative, but I also would add that it seems insensitively cruel to do so.) However, I will say that the dispersal of these videos took place just three days after Aqa Moula Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin’s RA demise. The videos were sent to members of the Dawoodi Bohra community in what seemed to have been an attempt by the Qutbuddin family to make them go viral and in many ways torment the grieve stricken families of these children who were mourning the demise of both their spiritual and actual father, Moulana Burhanuddin TUS.
Regardless of the theological claims that Khuzaima Qutbuddin, his wife, and his children adhere to and purport as him being the 53rd Da’i Mutlaq, by publicly exploiting their grandchildren and those of Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS and Syedi Qaid Johar Bhaisaheb Izzuddin in order to cause them more turmoil in a time of mourning seems to be an act lacking any moral justification or human decency. Why did the Mumbai Mirror leave this well known detail of the viral videos out of their report? Furthermore, it should be noted that abducting children from their normal household situations and environments and abruptly removing them from the love and care of their fathers, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins is one of the first acts Khuzaima Qutbuddin performed after he made his claim to being the 53rd Dai Mutlaq of the Dawoodi Bohra community.
International kidnapping and child abduction is a very serious matter. It causes a great amount of pain and stress for all the parties involved, especially those families from who the children were taken away without their knowledge. In cases like these, children are made into innocent victims of their parents’ decisions to use extreme measures without the guidance and jurisdiction of civil courts. In fact, since October 25, 1980 the Hague Convention of Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction were put in place internationally to try and spare children from the harm which can ensue from such situations. Provisions have been instated internationally to ensure that children are returned to their families and proper custody hearings take place. India, however, is not a signatory of the Hague Convention nor does Indian law fully consider the act of parental kidnapping a crime.
Perhaps, in the eyes of Indian law (and maybe not international or United States law), the Qutbuddin family has not immediately committed a crime. In fact, it is reported that often in such cases in India custody is awarded to the mother and solved by keeping the culturally sensitive situations in mind and by determining the factors which are best suited for Indian society. Therefore, the ultimate decision of the fate of these young innocent children who were abducted by their mothers on the day of Aqa Moula Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin’s TUS demise is a matter which is left for the Indian courts.
However, in any civil society, the law is hardly the only component to measure common morality and justice. Every human being has an inner sense of social justice imbued in the fiber of our being. Thus, even though perhaps no penalizing act has been done by the daughters of Qutbuddin according to Indian law (we will have to wait and see the efficiency of the Indian court system), a major injustice has been done. It seems very hard to believe that sanctioning the abduction of children, releasing exploitative hurtful videos of minors, internationally kidnapping children, and aiding and abetting criminals, could ever be the just and moral actions of any religious leader – much less anyone claiming to be the Da’i Mutlaq of the Dawoodi Bohra community. It seems rather ironic that Khuzaima Qutbuddin and his family are attempting to channel and utilize Indian law to try and prove their claims as being the rightful owners of the office of the 53rd Da’i Mutlaq while simply ignoring other aspects of the law and basic morality when it suits their own personal agenda. This is truly an unprecedented situation in the history of the Dawoodi Bohras.